Paducah, KY – Boater Cole Jezek of Salem, Illinois, caught a five-bass limit weighing 12 pounds, 7 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on the Ohio River at Paducah Presented by FVP . The tournament was the fourth event of the season for the BFL Illini Division. Jezek earned $10,296, including the lucrative $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus, for his victory.
“I had checked some stuff out the day before, so I headed up the Tennessee River,” said Jezek. “I had won this event there previously, in 2014, so I had a gut feeling with the amount of current that was running that I knew where I wanted to start.”
Jezek began his day with a bang, and his Ned rig produced a limit by 7:20.
“I had the weight just perfect to where I was just ticking the rock, and when it got by the right rock the smallmouth were just sitting there,” Jezek said. “We went to work on them pretty quick.”
Jezek said he relocated near the dam, but the crowded conditions didn’t produce any quality bass for him. He returned to his starting spot and culled two more times. Jezek said he caught a total of eight bass – all keepers – during the tournament.
“Every fish I caught … they just kept getting bigger,” Jezek said. “At one point I had a 3.54-pound fish sitting in the livewell, and that river is tough, so I knew I was sitting in a pretty good position to have a chance to win.
“This win feels really good,” Jezek added. “My dad was there at weigh-in to share the win with me. That was his first time to be there to experience the weigh-in ceremony, so this is really special to me.”
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:
1st: Cole Jezek, Salem, Ill., five bass, 12-7, $10,296 (includes $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
2nd: Bryan Godwin, Marion, Ky., five bass, 11-11, $1,648
3rd: James Williams, Charleston, Ill., four bass, 10-10, $1,399
4th: Jerry Waters, Hampton, Ky., five bass, 10-6, $769
5th: Jeremy Mull, Pawnee, Ill., five bass, 9-10, $659
6th: Justin Berger, Murray, Ky., five bass, 9-1, $604
7th: Daniel Hodge, Fort Knox, Ky., five bass, 8-15, $549
8th: Riley Walk, Neoga, Ill., five bass, 8-14, $694
9th: Coty Fowler, Brookport, Ill., five bass, 8-7, $439
10th: James Jarvis, West Frankfort, Ill., four bass, 7-15, $385
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Scott Neighbors of Makanda, Illinois, caught a bass that weighed 4 pounds, 12 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $405.
Amanda Black of Toledo, Illinois, won the Strike King co-angler division and a total of $1,648 Saturday, after bringing four bass to the scale that totaled 11 pounds, 7 ounces.
The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:
1st: Amanda Black, Toledo, Ill., four bass, 11-7, $1,648
2nd: Earl Ross, Jr., Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., five bass, 9-8, $824
3rd: Richard Skiff, Edwardsville, Ill., four bass, 7-15, $549
4th: Carlton Maddox, Seymour, Ill., three bass, 7-2, $385
5th: Hayden Swain, Tamaroa, Ill., five bass, 6-14, $330
6th: Kim Sapetti, Chatham, Ill., three bass, 6-13, $302
7th: Nate Stephens, Metropolis, Ill., three bass, 6-5, $275
8th: Lucas Tanner, West Frankfort, Ill., four bass, 5-12, $247
9th: Ryan Murphy, Paris, Ill., three bass, 5-10, $420
10th: Dale Renth, Mascoutah, Ill., four bass, 5-9, $192
Truman Ross of Whitwell, Tennessee, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $202, catching a bass that weighed in at 4 pounds, 1 ounce – the largest co-angler catch of the day.
After four events, Garrett McDowell of Windsor, Illinois, leads the BFL Illini Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 973 points, while Aaron Arning of Walnut Hill, Illinois, leads the Strike King Co-Angler Division AOY race with 936 points.
The top 45 boaters and co-anglers in the region based on point standings, along with the five tournament winners of each qualifying event, will qualify for the Oct. 12-14 BFL Regional tournament on Dale Hollow Lake in Byrdstown, Tennessee. Boaters will fish for a top award of $60,000, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard and $10,000, while co-anglers will compete for a top award of $50,000, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard.
The 2023 Phoenix BFL Presented by T-H Marine is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 128 events throughout the season, five qualifying tournaments in each division. The top 45 boaters and Strike King co-anglers from each division, along with the five qualifying event winners, will advance to one of six BFL Regional tournaments where they are competing to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the BFL All-American.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, E3, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, General Tire, Grundéns, Gill, Lew’s, Lowrance, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Mystik Lubricants, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota, Wiley X and YETI.
For complete details and updated tournament information, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular Bass Fishing League updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF5’s social media outlets at Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
About Major League Fishing
Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, the Discovery Channel, the Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, the World Fishing Network and on-demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 13 countries. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement and fish care.